Girl (stylized as G I R L) is the second studio album by American recording artist and record producer Pharrell Williams. The album was released on March 3, 2014, through Williams' label i Am Other and Columbia Records. Girl was Williams' first studio album since his 2006 debut, In My Mind. It contains appearances by Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Daft Punk, JoJo and Alicia Keys.
Girl received generally positive reviews from critics. It peaked at number one in 12 countries worldwide, also peaking in the top 10 of the charts of 17 other countries. The album has sold 591,000 copies in the United States as of February 2015. The album's lead single was the Academy Awards-nominated "Happy" (from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack), which was a huge worldwide success, selling more than 13.9 million units (sales plus equivalent streams) worldwide and becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. Follow-up singles "Marilyn Monroe", "Come Get It Bae" and "Gust of Wind" have achieved moderate success. At the 57th Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Urban Contemporary Album. "Happy" also won Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video.
Williams provided vocals for French electronic duo Daft Punk's 2013 album Random Access Memories. After returning from the Paris recording sessions, he attended a meeting with record label managers, who said that the results were "spectacular" and that "Get Lucky" would be Daft Punk's next single. They also made Williams an offer to record his own album, to which he quickly agreed.
On December 17, 2013, it was announced that Williams had signed to Columbia Records and would release his second studio album in 2014. On February 18, 2014, Williams unveiled a trailer for the album.
The work was described as a feminist "almost-concept" album in early reviews. Interviewed by Zane Lowe backstage at the 2014 Brit Awards, Williams specified that the capitalization and double-spacing of the album title is deliberately designed, "Because when you look at it, it looks a little weird... Because society is a little unbalanced." He added that he wished to honor the female figures in his life by making the record.
The opening track on the album, "Marilyn Monroe", begins with an orchestral string introduction. The song's production is characterized by Williams' distinctive bass line. The album's first single, "Happy", is a neo soul and funk song that Williams sings in a falsetto tone.
"Come Get It Bae", which features uncredited guest vocals from Miley Cyrus, is a funk song with playful beat. Lyrically, the song is based around sex and the metaphor "You want to ride my motorcycle?" serving as a double entendre for sex.
"Happy" was released as the lead single from the album on November 21, 2013; the song was originally written for and included on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. On November 24, Williams released the first 24-hour music video for "Happy". Guest appearances included Magic Johnson, Steve Carell, Jimmy Kimmel, Jamie Foxx, Odd Future, Miranda Cosgrove, Janelle Monáe and many others. The song has been commercially successful, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, topping charts in 19 other countries, and reaching top 10 positions in several more. It received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards, and Williams performed the song live at the ceremony on March 2, 2014.
In an interview with New York radio station Power 105.1, Williams revealed that the album's second single would be "Marilyn Monroe". On March 10, 2014, the single was added to the playlist of British urban contemporary radio station BBC Radio 1Xtra.
"Come Get It Bae" serves as the third single release from Girl and the second in the United States. It impacted mainstream urban radio on May 8, 2014, and rhythmic, urban contemporary and contemporary hit radio on May 20, 2014.
Girl received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 67, based on 35 reviews. Billboard magazine's Reggie Ugwu give the album four and a half stars out of five, and wrote that the album is "a relentlessly positive and unselfconsciously joyful tour de force." Michael Cragg of The Guardian called Girl "an audacious, almost-concept album celebrating women and aiming to highlight society's gender imbalance." Andy Kellman of AllMusic felt that the "carefree soul throwback appears here, almost smack in the middle. It doesn't sound out of place in a set of upbeat, candy-coated pop-R&B that is relatively modern-sounding, laced with some elements of R&B from the mid- to late '60s and that sweet late-'70s to early-'80s spot." He gave the album four out of five stars.
Barry Walters of Spin gave the album an eight out of ten, saying "As suggested by its title, Pharrell's second solo album follows last year's monster smashes for Daft Punk and Robin Thicke with a full-length both unabashedly feminine and neatly spaced-out." Reed Jackson of XXL gave the album an XL rating, saying "Girl not only represents a proper representation of his creativity, but, with high-profile guest spots (Timberlake, Cyrus, Daft Punk) and a number of radio-ready singles, it should also be a success on the charts and further his reputation as a pop icon. Let the man's hot streak continue."
Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine gave the album three out of five stars, saying "As Williams tells it, the Despicable Me 2 team made him go through eight drafts before he arrived at the disarming, first-person charm of "Happy". Girl may have benefited from a few more introspective trips back to the drawing board." Robert Copsey of Digital Spy categorized the album's overall sound as "uplifting R&B-funk" and gave the album four out of five stars, saying "The Motown-funk sound that dominates most of Girl was always going to be a given after the success of "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines", but what is surprising is its lyrical content, which is celebratory of women's power and sexuality, unlike his Robin Thicke collaboration."
Girl debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart on March 9, 2014. With first-week sales of over 70,000 copies, it was the fastest-selling album of 2014 in the UK at the time of its release, overtaking Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes by 45% and being certified Silver. As of February 2015, Girl has sold 320,000 copies in the UK and been certified Platinum.
In the United States, the album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, selling 113,000 copies. In its second week the album dropped to number five on that chart, selling 45,000 more copies. In its third week the album dropped to number six on that chart, selling 34,000 more copies. In its fourth week the album rose to number five on that chart, selling 25,000 more copies. As of February 2015, the album has sold 591,000 copies in the United States.All songs written by Pharrell Williams; songs with co-writers are noted.
Notes"Marilyn Monroe" features additional spoken vocals from Kelly Osbourne
"Come Get It Bae" features uncredited vocals from Miley Cyrus
"Gust of Wind" features uncredited vocals from Daft Punk
"Lost Queen" is followed by the hidden track "Freq", which features uncredited vocals from JoJo